Brief Thoughts on Language & Languages
Todman (Theo)
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Write-up2 (as at 03/08/2021 10:29:17): Brief Thoughts on Language & Languages

Introduction

Priority 1

Language →Total LanguagesTotal AnimadversionsArabic3Armenian4Chinese5Greek6Hebrew7Hindi8Japanese9Swahili10Thai11Turkish12Urdu13
Counts →113114211273316

Priority 2

Language →Total LanguagesTotal AnimadversionsAmharic14Danish15Dutch16French17German18Italian19Korean20Persian21Portuguese22Russian23Spanish24Swedish25
Counts →1214111111221111

LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
General1527/10/2020For ease of reference, I note the following pages giving a fuller view of my linguistic activities:-

The next languages in the queue are:-
  • Ling: Priority 1:
    1. Arabic. Last studied on 24 May 2021; Last Ling Lesson = 5.5; Last Ling Revision = 1.1
    2. Greek. Last studied on 26 May 2021; Last Ling Lesson = 5.5
    3. Chinese. Last studied on 27 May 2021; Last Ling Lesson = 5.5
    4. Hindi. Last studied on 29 May 2021; Last Ling Lesson = 5.5
    5. Urdu. Last studied on 30 May 2021; Last Ling Lesson = 5.5
    6. Swahili. Last studied on 01 June 2021; Last Ling Lesson = 5.5
    7. Thai. Last studied on 08 June 2021; Last Ling Lesson = 24.1
    8. Armenian. Last studied on 14 June 2021; Last Ling Lesson = 5.5
    9. Turkish. Last studied on 15 June 2021; Last Ling Lesson = 6.5
    10. Hebrew. Last studied on 16 June 2021; Last Ling Lesson = 5.5
  • Ling: Priority 2:
    1. Amharic (Ethiopic). Last studied on 20 April 2021
    2. Korean. Last studied on 14 May 2021; Last Ling Lesson = 5.5
    3. Russian. Last studied on 31 May 2021; Last Ling Lesson = 5.5
    4. Persian. Last studied on 03 June 2021; Last Ling Lesson = 5.5
    5. Dutch. Last studied on 09 June 2021; Last Ling Lesson = 5.5
    6. Danish. Last studied on 13 June 2021; Last Ling Lesson = 5.5
    7. Swedish. Last studied on 13 June 2021; Last Ling Lesson = 5.5
  • Non-Ling: Priority 1:
    1. Armenian. Last studied on 24 January 2021
    2. Hindi. Last studied on 25 January 2021
    3. Chinese. Last studied on 26 January 2021
    4. Urdu. Last studied on 22 February 2021
    5. Arabic. Last studied on 17 March 2021
    6. Swahili. Last studied on 18 April 2021
    7. Greek. Last studied on 05 May 2021
    8. Turkish. Last studied on 11 May 2021
    9. Thai. Last studied on 19 May 2021
    10. Hebrew. Last studied on 23 May 2021
  • Non-Ling: Priority 2:
    1. German. Last studied on 20 November 2020
    2. Italian. Last studied on 23 November 2020
    3. Dutch. Last studied on 24 November 2020
    4. Swedish. Last studied on 25 November 2020
    5. Spanish. Last studied on 27 November 2020
    6. Russian. Last studied on 26 December 2020
    7. Portuguese. Last studied on 06 January 2021
    8. Persian. Last studied on 25 January 2021
    9. Amharic (Ethiopic). Last studied on 05 March 2021
    10. French. Last studied on 16 April 2021
Notes:-
  1. In the above list, "Ling" applies to study on Ling (or in one case - Amharic31, when it appears - on 50Languages); "Non-Ling" applies to other study for that Language.
  2. Currently, "Ling" is selected if the latest study for that Language using Ling is more than 2 or 3 weeks ago (priority 1 and 2 respectively), and
  3. "Non-Ling" is selected if the latest study for that Language using Non-Ling material is more than 2 or 3 months ago (priority 1 and 2 respectively).
  4. I'll keep these time periods under review to keep the lists in check where zeal is insufficient.


Progress on Ling:-
  • Priority 1:-
    1. 5.5: Arabic
    2. 5.5: Armenian
    3. 5.5: Chinese
    4. 5.5: Greek
    5. 5.5: Hebrew
    6. 5.5: Hindi
    7. 5.5: Swahili
    8. 5.5: Urdu
    9. 6.5: Japanese
    10. 6.5: Turkish
    11. 24.1: Thai
  • Priority 2:-
    1. 5.5: Danish
    2. 5.5: Dutch
    3. 5.5: Korean
    4. 5.5: Persian
    5. 5.5: Russian
    6. 5.5: Swedish
    7. 10.5: French
    8. 10.5: German
    9. 10.5: Italian
    10. 10.5: Portuguese
    11. 10.5: Spanish
Notes:-
  1. The decimals above show the latest "Lesson.Unit" completed (of the 50 x 4 on Ling per Language).
  2. Unit 5 is the end-of-Lesson Test.
  3. The purpose of the above is to try to keep the various languages in step, within the two priorities at least. So, the sequence is within increasing "Lesson.Unit".
  4. My initial aim was to complete the first 5 Lessons for each Language. As this is now complete, I need to do a lot of revision before advancing further. See a later "General Animadversion"!
↑↑↑1228/10/2020Ling Language Learning
  • I decided to invest in a premium membership of Ling in order to study Armenian32. Subsequently, I decided to set up this Note so that any thoughts I have on the subject of language don't get lost (not that anyone other than myself would care).
  • Ling seems to have a standard format for each language. The speakers sound like natives, and not computer-generated, but I wonder whether some of the putting together of the lesson has been done by an AI.
  • For all languages I’ve looked at there are 50 Units in all, broken down into four sections of 10: Beginner, Intermediate, Upper Intermediate, Advanced and Expert. Each Unit has 4 lessons and a set of tests to do at the end: Speaking, Writing and an Exam. In general, I’ve not bothered with the speaking or writing as they don’t fit well while walking the dog!
  • In principle there are three elements to a Unit – Vocabulary, dialogue and grammar; but, most languages I’ve seen don’t have a grammar section which is a shame – particularly for inflected languages (ie. most non-Oriental) which can seem mystifying without a general understanding of how such languages work.
  • Each lesson follows the same general path: Vocabulary is introduced using flash cards and sample sentences (which introduce all sorts of vocabulary and constructions not explained, so the learning is somewhat immersive), there are multiple-choice questions, and spelling tests using the – sometimes idiosyncratic – transliteration scheme. Each lesson ends with a dialogue and a test thereof in which you have to fill in the gaps from a jumble of words. Where the expression is a single word, it can be a bit awkward as you can’t replay the phrase as in other cases!
  • It is worth remarking that you can “game the system” in most test situations in that you can deduce the answer in most multiple-choice situations by ruling out the absurdities and other obviously incorrect alternatives. But continuing to do this leaves you in the end not really knowing what’s going on, so the temptation should be resisted.
  • The (English) vocabulary and narratives seem to be the same for each Language, as are the names of the participants in the dialogue – Mary and Tom. These are rather anomalous in some languages, but the participants are sometimes foreigners in the context of the dialogue. Sometimes – eg. in Chinese33 the sounds of these names don’t fit, so something appropriate is substituted.
  • The flash-cards for the vocabulary seem to be the same across languages, so that the images for people are always white and western, which is a bit odd for – say – Swahili34.
  • For most languages, translation and transliteration continue throughout the course. Though you can optionally suppress translation. For Thai35, the transliteration disappears after the first 10 units (and doesn’t re-appear when reviewing even these).
  • As just noted, you can review the Units, which allows you to remind yourself of the vocabulary and dialogues. You can also review your progress to date overall.
  • To get through a lesson, you need to answer the questions presented, and there’s no going back to look things up within a lesson. Sometimes words appear before you’ve been given them, so you have to guess. Hence, it’s usually best to do the Unit-level “Review” first, which introduces all you need to know without testing you and stopping you progressing.
↑↑↑3303/01/2021General: Sequence of Language-learning
  • I think it’s advisable not to cycle through the various languages in random order, but to study them in groups where the similarities and differences of related – or mutually influential – languages can be noted.
  • The first obvious grouping is the Germanic languages:-
    German36 versus Dutch37
    Swedish38 versus Danish39
  • Next,
    Hindi40 versus Urdu41
  • There are also the influences of Arabic42 on Turkish43 and Urdu44, sometimes mediated by Persian45 even though there are three linguistic groups involved here.
  • Then,
    Hebrew46 versus Arabic47
  • Otherwise,
    Spanish48 versus Portuguese49 versus Italian50
  • While the languages are very different, it might be useful to treat
    Chinese51 and Japanese52
    together so as to compare the Japanese53 Kanji with the Chinese54 pictograms for the same words.
  • Finally, I suppose, while there’s little linguistic similarity I’m aware of – and ignoring the similarities of the alphabets
    Russian55 and Greek56
    might be studied together because they are both highly inflected Indo-European languages.
  • That seems to leave Armenian57, Korean58 and Thai59 as outliers.
↑↑↑3712/01/2021BBC: UK leading the way in use of language-learning apps
  • An interesting article, motivated by increased interest in on-line language-learning during the Covid-19 lock-downs. It doesn’t mention people using the apps while out walking the dog.
  • Ling isn’t mentioned. The Apps reviewed are Duolingo – which I know well – Busuu and Babbel.
  • Duolingo allegedly has 3M users in the UK. Presumably the definition of “user” is fairly lax.
  • Spanish60 is the most popular language for UK-based learners. Presumably because it’s the easiest, and Spain is the most popular holiday destination.
  • Duolingo and Basuu offer free Apps, but Babbel is only free for a week. I find the intervention of Ads and repeated requests to upgrade rather irritating. Ling is very cheap – half the Duolingo cut-price offer.
  • As to whether any of them are any good, there’s a scathing comment from “Renowned linguist Stephen Krashen, professor emeritus of the University of Southern California”: “My analyses of their results show that they achieve the same mediocre results as traditional methods do in regular classrooms, and produce the same lack of enthusiasm from students. We don't acquire language by speaking or writing, even when we get our errors corrected. Rather, the ability to speak and write fluently and accurately is the result of language acquisition via comprehensible input, such as good books, movies and interesting stories”.
  • I’m not sure I agree with the “improved method” suggested, but do agree that immersion in the language and culture is probably essential for fluency. That’s why I’m only aiming at “familiarisation”.
  • I googled a few comparison articles on the alternatives, but haven’t followed them up as I’m happy with Ling for my limited aims at the moment.
  • I noted another helpful BBC site along these lines in mid-February 2021, but haven't really followed it up yet: BBC: How to learn a language: tips from a polyglot. A further animadversion will hopefully follow in due course!
↑↑↑4124/01/202150languages.com
↑↑↑4625/02/2021Multi-Lingualism in Ling
  • Ling have now expanded their database so that - as with 50languages.com - it is possible the learn any supported language as a speaker of any other supported language.
  • So, I have tried learning Spanish93 as an Italian94 speaker. It is interesting (as noted above) to compare two similar languages, but even with two "easy" languages, it does make your head ache a bit as you have to remember which language you're supposed to be using, and you have to know your supposed "native" language sufficiently well to know what you're supposed to be translating. I did make one mistake in Italian95 word order when translating from Spanish96. I don't suppose Ling expects people not to have a command of their native language, but it marked it wrong anyway. You don't have an English guide to tell you what the sentences mean in English, which is the advantage of 50languages.com with a hard-copy book, though you do get used to the lessons on Ling as they are the same for each language, and you could write them out if you wanted to.
  • It might be best just to do the 'Review All' exercises in a non-native language, having done the Lessons in your native language.
  • I imagine this gets much more difficult where the scripts are other than Latin. While the language you're supposed to be learning is transliterated into English, the translation is in your supposed native language. I tried this briefly pretending to learn Hindi97 as an Urdu98 speaker. I could get some questions right, but it was hard work, and easiest where the Hindi99 and Urdu100 were similar (in their respective scripts).
↑↑↑5021/03/2021Aeon: Gallagher - How to learn a language101 (and stick at it)
↑↑↑5113/04/2021Comparative Ling Database
  • Today I started to create the display pages for my comparative Ling database.
  • The purpose of this is both to help with my revision of individual languages, to sort out confusions in my mind and to see the connections between them. I've wanted to do this for decades, so it's quite a step forward for me.
  • I keep wanting to add more languages to the list, but need to keep things in check. So, I can't add Khmer or Lao for comparison with Thai102. But it would be churlish not to add French103, for comparison with other Romance languages, so I've remedied this deficiency.
  • To see more, Start Here104.
↑↑↑5327/06/2021Where to from here?
  • Having – around early June 2021 – completed the first 5 lessons for all 22 languages I’m studying on Ling, I’m in a quandary as to how to proceed from here. For some languages I could just plough on, but for most this wouldn’t make any sense, and would get increasingly difficult.
  • When I say “completed” above, I mean that I’ve taken all the units and passed the tests with the maximum 3 stars. But this doesn’t equate to knowing much, as the tests are multiple-choice so you can usually – with minimal knowledge – work out the correct answers.
  • You can do Review tests – or repeat the end-of-lesson Exams – but these are also fairly easy to “game” for the same reasons.
  • Rather than repeating everything, I think the best approach is to make use of my Comparative Ling Database105, and improve it as I proceed. It’ll also enable me to make comparisons between languages of the same family, and to spot influences across language groups.
  • I ought also to add footnotes to this Database as I note anything of interest, though this is time-consuming, and can’t be done while walking Henry the dog.
  • Update (07/07/2021): I've decided to plough on with the following languages, at least until the end of lesson 10, when I'll review progress. I may add others in due course:-
    French106
    Spanish107
    Portuguese108
    Italian109
    German110
  • Update (14/07/2021): I decided to add Japanese111 as a foil to what I'm doing on "WaniKani - Learn Japanese Kanji".
  • Update (02/08/2021): I've completed the first 10 lessons for the five 'easy' languages above, and see no reason not to plough on with them, though I now need to import lessons 6-10 for these languages into my Ling database. Anyway, that means I've completed the 'Beginner' stage for these languages and can now move on to 'Intermediate'. As for the other languages, I think it may be best to start them all again and repeat the first five lessons for each.
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Amharic00Administration
  • Resources: Books; Papers; 50languages.com
  • Hours spent this academic year: 3
  • Date last Studied (Ling): 20-Apr-21
  • Date last Studied (Non-Ling): 05-Mar-21
  • References (2): General112, (2113)
  • Hours by prior academic year: Total: 7.25. 2009: 7.25
↑↑↑4702/03/2021Started studying Amharic on 50Languages.
  • It's not yet available on Ling, but I'm treating 50Languages as though it were Ling for the purposes of this report.
  • I've not really got to grips with 50Languages yet, so am not yet fully conversant with what it can do.
  • As for Amharic, I'm interested to see how it compares with Hebrew114 and Arabic115. From what little I've seen so far, it doesn't seem in the least similar - at least as far as vocabulary is concerned.
  • 50Languages has a clear script, of which I've ignorant at the moment; I can't yet comment on the transliteration.
  • The script is rather impenetrable, in that it's a syllabary with 231 letters. Consequently, I’ve purchased "Halcomb (T. Michael W.) - Introducing Amharic: An Interactive Workbook" which – while somewhat plodding – has very large print!
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Arabic00Administration
↑↑↑809/10/2020Started studying Arabic on Ling: "Ling - Learn Arabic".
  • An elegant and perfectly legible Arabic script is used, but it is unpointed – that is, the short vowels aren’t indicated by the usual diacritical marks above or below the letters, though the other diacritics are used and are also legible. I presume this is standard practice in newspapers. Given that the words are spoken, this isn’t too much of a handicap. Having said that, occasionally a word or phrase will be pointed, for no obvious reason.
  • There’s no explanation of the script, or even of its direction, which must all be rather mysterious to those who can’t already read it.
  • The transliteration seems rather eccentric, which is awkward as the “spelling” questions are in this encoding. A particularly egregious example is that for the number 25, which is pronounced something like “hamza we eshroon” but is transliterated as “khmst w eshrwn”. The 'waw' is transliterated as 'w' thether it is to be pronounced 'w' or is the sign for the long 'u'.
  • There is no grammar given. I have a bunch of books on Arabic grammar, but will probably just use "Wightwick (Jane) & Gaafar (Mahmoud) - Mastering Arabic", though "Abdul-Rauf (Muhammad) - Arabic for English-Speaking Students" is more detailed.
  • Arabic has had an influence on Hindi135, Urdu136, Turkish137 & Persian138, amongst the languages I’m studying, so is worth learning as background as well as in its own right. The script is also used – in slightly expanded form – by Urdu139 and Persian140.
  • Of course, Hebrew141 is a related language, and it’s interesting to compare the two. The Ling “standard template” approach is useful in this regard.
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Armenian00Administration
  • Resources: Books; Papers; 50languages.com
  • Hours spent this academic year: 19.25
  • Date last Studied (Ling): 14-Jun-21
  • Date last Studied (Non-Ling): 24-Jan-21
  • References (4): General142, (2143), Hindi144, Urdu145
  • Hours by prior academic year: Total: 30.75. 2019: 20.75. 2013: 2.25. 2010: 7.75
  • Latest Ling Lesson Studied: 5.5
  • Links to Aeon Comparative Database:
    1. Vocabulary146
    2. Dialogues147
↑↑↑620/08/2020Started studying Armenian on Ling: "Ling - Learn Armenian".
  • The course seems to be of Eastern Armenian, as spoken in Armenia itself, rather than the dialect spoken in the diaspora.
  • An elegant and perfectly legible Armenian script is used. A minor irritation in this regard is that a large proportion of the letters look like Latin script, but with different sounds. But, you get used to it.
  • There’s no explanation of the script, so outside help is probably required, though the script is fairly straightforward and phonetic, so might be deduced. Transliteration is fine.
  • There is no grammar given, which is awkward as Armenian is highly inflected. I only have one book on Armenian - "Andonian (Hagop) - Beginner's Armenian" - which suffers from the huge drawback of insisting you use the script from day one. I agree with this approach, as it saves learning a transliteration schema. But, the traditional italicised Armenian font is horribly scratchy, and the print in the book is tiny and blobby, so that it’s almost impossible to read until you’re very familiar with the language and script so you can correct for the poor print.
  • But Ling is fine for providing some familiarisation.
↑↑↑1127/09/2020Jack pointed out that Armenian has sundry duplicate letters for the same sound, namely for ch, ts, k, p, r, t and v,
… as in the list below, showing Armenian Upper case → Lower case → Roman alphabet
Չ → չ → 'ch' as in 'ch'air
Ջ → ջ → 'ch' as in 'ch'air
Ձ → ձ → 'ts' as in boo'ts'
Ց → ց → 'ts' as in boo'ts'
Գ → գ → K
Ք → ք → K
Փ → փ → P
Բ → բ → P
Ռ → ռ → R
Ր → ր → R
Դ → դ → T
Թ → թ → T
Վ → վ → V
Ւ → ւ → V
There’s a movement in Armenia itself to tidy up the orthography, though not in the diaspora. This is all very well, but it cuts a culture off from its past, and the situation is either very much worse in other languages (including English) or there are unpleasant consequences of reform. For instance:-
  1. Turkish148: Ataturk reformed both the language (getting rid of Ottoman Turkish149) and the orthography (changing from Perso-Arabic script to slightly augmented Latin). This means that anything written in Turkish150 before the 20th century is unintelligible to modern Turks, who may not even know what the old script was.
  2. Thai151: Thai152 is in a much worse state than Armenian. There are three sets of consonants with the same sounds and you need to know the consonant class of each consonant so you can work out the default tone rules.
  3. Portuguese153: Various attempts to make the language more phonetic – including the replacement of “ph” by “f”, as in “filosofia” for philosophy.
  4. Chinese154: Mao simplified the character set somewhat – basically making some pictograms less complicated, but the script is still prodigiously complicated and it’d open China up to the rest of the world if Pinyin were adopted by the Chinese155 media and the old script scrapped. But it’d be an act of barbarism.
  5. Japanese156: As for Chinese157 a reform would make the written language more open to the outside world by using the Kana if not Romaji. Japanese158 pictograms are the archaic Chinese159 ones.
↑↑↑3915/01/2021Jack on Armenian
  • Mesrop Mashtots: role – or alleged role – in the creation of the alphabets of Georgian and Caucasian Albanian scripts (as well as Armenian): See:-
    Wikipedia: Mesrop Mashtots,
    Wikipedia: Georgian Scripts, and
    Wikipedia: Caucasian Albanian Script.
  • Classical Armenian (Grabar): See Wikipedia: Classical Armenian. Also, from Wikipedia on Mesrop Mashtots:
      The first sentence in Armenian written down by St. Mesrop after he invented the letters is said to be the opening line of Solomon’s Book of Proverbs: Ճանաչել զիմաստութիւն եւ զխրատ, իմանալ զբանս հանճարոյ: (Čanačʿel zimastutʿiwn ew zxrat, imanal zbans hančaroy) “To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding.” — Book of Proverbs, 1:2.
    Jack notes the frequent presence of the initial զ (z).
  • Armenian has no grammatical gender.
  • To listen to Eastern Armenian, follow Radio Garden - Public radio of Armenia, news on the hour, else music!
↑↑↑4024/01/2021"Schumann (Johannes) - Armenian for beginners"
  • This is a very well printed book, but it is just the print-out from the on-line course (50languages: Armenian for English Speakers).
  • I bought the book because I wanted an Armenian Grammar which had the Armenian script printed clearly. Well, this is half-way there, in that the script is very clear. Unfortunately, as the website admits, this is just a phrase-book, and the grammar is left completely unexplained.
  • So, it hasn’t really fulfilled its purpose. And while the script is clear, it’s not much help in deciphering the tiny, italic, blotchy script full of serifs that seems to be the standard. Maybe once you’re thoroughly familiar with the tidy on-line script, which is what is reproduced in the book, the traditional fonts won’t be so forbidding.
  • There is no explanation of the script in the book, but it’s available on the 50Languages site at 50languages: Armenian Alphabet, on Wikipedia and on other Armenian teaching sites.
  • Finally, though it’s not explained, the text appears to be Eastern Armenian, as spoken in Yerevan, rather than Western Armenian, as spoken in the Armenian diaspora.
  • One thing that’s really useful is that the transliteration is preserved throughout, as well as the script of the language being learnt.
  • However, the book was useful to me, as I’d not heard of this site before. See 50languages.com.
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Chinese00Administration
  • Resources: Books; Papers; 50languages.com
  • Hours spent this academic year: 14.75
  • Date last Studied (Ling): 27-May-21
  • Date last Studied (Non-Ling): 26-Jan-21
  • References (10): Armenian160, General161, (2162), (3163), Japanese164, (2165), Korean166, (2167), Thai168, (2169)
  • Hours by prior academic year: Total: 169.5. 2019: 0.25. 2014: 2.25. 2011: 1.25. 2010: 5.25. 2009: 88.5. 2008: 67. 2007: 5
  • Latest Ling Lesson Studied: 5.5
  • Links to Aeon Comparative Database:
    1. Vocabulary170
    2. Dialogues171
↑↑↑409/10/2020Started studying Mandarin Chinese on Ling: "Ling - Learn Chinese".
  • The Course is just advertised as “Chinese”, but it’s clearly Mandarin – if only because there’s a separate course on Cantonese.
  • The transliteration appears to be Pinyin, including the tone marks used therein, which is really helpful, though it is to be noted that Pinyin – despite using the Latin alphabet, has certain consonants (x, q, r) and certain vowels and vowel combinations that aren’t pronounced as one might expect. But you can work things out by listening to the pronunciation.
  • The Chinese pictographs are also given in a clear font, but the exercises are in Pinyin, so I doubt you need to learn them – nor is it likely to be easy. There are no “writing” tests.
  • Just checking out the Cantonese – the transliteration there looks really odd in that the tones are indicated by numbers in line, so it all reads pretty oddly. It’d be nice to compare Mandarin with Cantonese, but they don’t look mutually intelligible when spoken, and I expect life’s far too short.
  • There is no Mandarin grammar given, which isn’t too much of a handicap as there is little grammar in Oriental languages, unlike in inflected languages. I have a host of books on Mandarin, but don’t intend to consult them as part of this exercise in basic familiarisation.
  • I’ve not yet tried any “speaking” tests. I imagine this is difficult, given the tones and the pronunciation of the “r” and some of the sibilants, which I can’t tell apart.
↑↑↑3224/12/2020Chinese: Background Reading
  • Despite the denial above, I've decided a gentle background read on the topic of Chinese would be interesting, and have chosen "Newman (Richard) - About Chinese", which I’ve had – largely unread – for decades. It’s an interesting read, and a lot could be said.
  • An advantage of the Chinese pictographic script is given – namely, that a large number of Chinese dialects exist, but – given the script isn’t phonetic – can all be written the same, so are largely mutually intelligible in writing – readers just “hear” different words as they read (as when Arabic-numerals are read in different languages).
  • I’m not quite sure at this point what the Chinese do with new vocabulary for which there are no historic characters, given that – unlike Japanese172 – there is no syllabary to spell them out in. There’s an interesting article on Wikipedia that explains it all (Wikipedia: Translation of neologisms into Chinese). It looks to me to be similar to the approach with Egyptian hieroglyphs where the sounds of words are used as a bridge. A glyph for a monosyllabic word that sounds so-and-so is used to represent that sound in writing other words that use that sound.
  • Another remark is on the origin of the tones. Chinese – it is claimed – is greatly impoverished as far as the number of sounds that can be made (about 400 basic monosyllables) so – given that Chinese words consist of very few monosyllables combined – the spoken language is massively semantically overloaded: identically-sounding words can have many different meanings. The tones multiply up the number of monosyllables to something under 1600 (not all basic sounds carry each of the four tones), which is still not enough: context is essential for determining the meaning of spoken Chinese. This might suggest that getting the tones right would be essential, but the book’s author says comfortingly that outright unintelligibility on that account is rare.
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Danish00Administration
↑↑↑2017/11/2020Started studying Danish on Ling: "Ling - Learn Danish".
  • I’ve no good reason for studying Danish, other than that it’s the language of a number of Scandi-noir series on TV, and it’d be nice to get an overview of how the language works, though I can’t see myself skipping the sub-titles any time soon. It’ll be interesting to see the similarities with German179, and Swedish180 when I get round to it.
  • Danish – of course – uses a slightly augmented Latin script, though the pronunciation is very far from being as one might expect. As usual, Ling provides no explanation, but I dare say it’s easy enough to pick up the rules.
  • Ling has speaking tests. I’d not thought of availing myself of them, but the pronunciation is so odd that it might be worth a go.
  • There are no grammar sections for Danish on Ling, so I’ll need to rely on the rather antiquated "Koefoed (H.A.) - Teach Yourself Danish" for enlightenment. Help with pronunciation requires a detailed knowledge of the phonetic alphabet and how that sounds, which is a nuisance. However, Wikipedia: Help: IPA looks really helpful (unlike Wikipedia: International Phonetic Alphabet which, while very interesting, doesn't give the actual sounds, except by description and explanation).
  • As with all languages, you can get some sort of idea from immersion, though I don’t think Ling quite qualifies as that.
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Dutch00Administration
  • Resources: Books; Papers; 50languages.com
  • Hours spent this academic year: 8
  • Date last Studied (Ling): 09-Jun-21
  • Date last Studied (Non-Ling): 24-Nov-20
  • References (4): General181, (2182), Japanese183, Urdu184
  • Hours by prior academic year: Total: 2.75. 2009: 0.75. 2008: 2
  • Latest Ling Lesson Studied: 5.5
  • Links to Aeon Comparative Database:
    1. Vocabulary185
    2. Dialogues186
↑↑↑2324/11/2020Started studying Dutch on Ling: "Ling - Learn Dutch".
  • I thought I’d just check it out on Ling – a very tenuous reason is that my (Turkish) sister-in-law has relatives in Holland. Also, I’d like to see how Dutch compares with German187. I’ve only had a very brief look at Dutch before.
  • Ling has speaking exercises, but I probably won’t do any of them. The spelling of Dutch is crazy (why spell “Frau” as “wrouw”?) but spoken – the previous example apart – it’s rather closer to English than is German188, at least on a first listen.
  • Sadly, there are no grammar sections during the lessons, or for review, on Ling. I have only a couple of books on Dutch, but "Shetter (William) - Introduction to Dutch - A Practical Grammar", while somewhat dated, should be sufficient.
  • I’m reminded of a tale whereby – when a judge asked for a German189 translator – a volunteer was heavily fined for Contempt of Court by asking the accused – “in stage Kraut” – “VOT IS YOUR NAME?” (rather than “Wie heissen Sie?”). Had the defendant been Dutch, the stage Kraut would have done, as “Wat is jouw naam?” sounds pretty much like that.
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
French00Administration
  • Resources: Books; Papers; 50languages.com
  • Hours spent this academic year: 7.5
  • Date last Studied (Ling): 31-Jul-21
  • Date last Studied (Non-Ling): 16-Apr-21
  • References (2): General190, (2191)
  • Hours by prior academic year: Total: 11.25. 2013: 3.75. 2009: 4. 2008: 3.5
  • Latest Ling Lesson Studied: 10.5
  • Links to Aeon Comparative Database:
    1. Vocabulary192
    2. Dialogues193
↑↑↑5216/04/2021Started studying French on Ling: "Ling - Learn French".
  • I'd not intended to study French on Ling, having endured 5 years of it at school, ending with a middling O'Level grade.
  • However, I've decided to fit it in as an 'easy option' when I'm not up to anything more difficult, and it'd be churlish not to have French in the Romance section for comparison with Italian194, Spanish195 and Portuguese196.
  • Also, it'll be useful to calibrate the accuracy of Ling by seeing what it has to say on a language I know reasonably well.
  • From the first couple of lessons, things look a little dodgy. It's as though the audio has been recorded by an Italian197, as there's a tendency to pronounce terminal e's. Also, some of the idioms aren't what I remember from my school days. Maybe there's a French Canadian at work?
  • Ling has speaking exercises for French, but no grammar, which is no great loss to someone who's studied the language.
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
German00Administration
  • Resources: Books; Papers; 50languages.com
  • Hours spent this academic year: 16
  • Date last Studied (Ling): 02-Aug-21
  • Date last Studied (Non-Ling): 20-Nov-20
  • References (9): Danish198, Dutch199, General200, (2201), (3202), Hindi203, Japanese204, Swedish205, Urdu206
  • Hours by prior academic year: Total: 48.25. 2013: 5. 2011: 3.75. 2009: 2.5. 2008: 16.5. 2007: 20.5
  • Latest Ling Lesson Studied: 10.5
  • Links to Aeon Comparative Database:
    1. Vocabulary207
    2. Dialogues208
↑↑↑2120/11/2020Started studying German on Ling: "Ling - Learn German".
  • I really need a reading knowledge of German as some of the current philosophical work I’m interested in is in German (especially work by Anne Sophie Meincke). Whether Ling is of any use in this regard remains to be seen.
  • Ling has speaking exercises, but I’m familiar enough with German not to need this; however useful it might be for sorting out my accent.
  • There are also useful grammar sections during the lessons, and for review. Additionally, I have a number of introductory books on German, but will probably use "Tenberg (Reinhard) & Ainslie (Susan) - Deutsch Plus".
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Greek00Administration
  • Resources: Books; Papers; 50languages.com
  • Hours spent this academic year: 13.75
  • Date last Studied (Ling): 26-May-21
  • Date last Studied (Non-Ling): 05-May-21
  • References (2): General209, Swahili210
  • Hours by prior academic year: Total: 105.25. 2012: 3.25. 2011: 22.5. 2009: 1.75. 2008: 75. 2007: 2.75
  • Latest Ling Lesson Studied: 5.5
  • Links to Aeon Comparative Database:
    1. Vocabulary211
    2. Dialogues212
↑↑↑1810/11/2020Started studying Greek on Ling: "Ling - Learn Greek".
  • The Greek script is given, and there are writing tests – though the script isn’t complex enough for this to be worthwhile, especially with a fingernail on an iPhone. The script is accented, which must be the standard in Greek newspapers, as for other languages on Ling sundry much more useful diacritics are omitted for that reason.
  • The transliteration schema – which is needed for the exercises and progressing the course – are basically phonetic, though a bit muddled. In modern Greek, the ancient Greek delta has softened to “th” (as in English “the”), so to get a hard “d”, the equivalent of “nt” has to be written (which also doubles as “nd”). So, “andras”, for “man” has to be written “antras” if a hard “d” is required – to be pronounced “andras”. But on Ling it is transliterated “antras”. All this notwithstanding, my books on modern Greek spell the word “andras” (in Greek characters)!
  • There are speaking exercises which I’ve not tried yet.
  • There are no grammar sections, which is a shame for so highly inflected a language. I have number of aids, but will probably just use "Matsukas (Aristarhos) - Complete Greek Course" for assistance.
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Hebrew00Administration
  • Resources: Books; Papers; 50languages.com
  • Hours spent this academic year: 9.75
  • Date last Studied (Ling): 16-Jun-21
  • Date last Studied (Non-Ling): 23-May-21
  • References (4): Amharic213, Arabic214, General215, (2216)
  • Hours by prior academic year: Total: 18. 2011: 1.25. 2010: 8.75. 2009: 1. 2008: 4.75. 2007: 2.25
  • Latest Ling Lesson Studied: 5.5
  • Links to Aeon Comparative Database:
    1. Vocabulary217
    2. Dialogues218
↑↑↑909/10/2020Started studying Modern Hebrew on Ling: "Ling - Learn Hebrew".
  • An perfectly legible Hebrew script is used, but it is unpointed – that is, the short vowels aren’t indicated by the usual diacritical marks above or below the letters, nor are there any other diacritics, including those distinguishing “sin” from “shin”. I presume this is standard practice in newspapers. Given that the words are spoken, this isn’t too much of a handicap.
  • There’s no explanation of the script, or even of its direction, which must all be somewhat mysterious to those who can’t already read it, though must less so that the (Perso-)Arabic scripts. I have to say that the Modern Hebrew script is rather barbarous when compared to the Classical Hebrew square script. The hand-written script is even worse, but not needed for Ling.
  • There is no grammar given, and no introduction to the “triliteral root” idea that is essential for understanding Semitic languages. I have a bunch of books on Hebrew grammar, both Classical and Modern, but will probably just use "Glinert (Lewis) - Modern Hebrew: An Essential Grammar".
  • However, "Raizen (Esther) - Modern Hebrew for Beginners: A Multimedia Program for Students at the Beginning and Intermediate Levels" looks much more exciting, especially as its website (University of Texas: Hebrew Language) is still extant.
  • As noted, it’s interesting comparing Hebrew with Arabic219. Also, comparing Classical with Modern Hebrew. All I’ve noticed so far is the use of “shel” for the genitive, rather than using the “construct”. It looks like the verb is still rather complex.
  • I have my suspicions that there are errors in the Ling text – eg. use of “yeled” (boy) when “yaldah” (girl) is required, despite the two words having been introduced. I understand from the above grammar that Modern Hebrew treats some of the gender distinctions in pronouns as a bit formal, and uses the masculine, though don’t know whether this informality reaches as far as nouns.
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Hindi00Administration
  • Resources: Books; Papers; 50languages.com
  • Hours spent this academic year: 11.25
  • Date last Studied (Ling): 29-May-21
  • Date last Studied (Non-Ling): 25-Jan-21
  • References (9): Arabic220, General221, (2222), (3223), Urdu224, (2225), (3226), (4227), (5228)
  • Hours by prior academic year: Total: 46.5. 2019: 3.75. 2012: 6.5. 2010: 1.25. 2009: 7. 2008: 15. 2007: 13
  • Latest Ling Lesson Studied: 5.5
  • Links to Aeon Comparative Database:
    1. Vocabulary229
    2. Dialogues230
↑↑↑321/09/2020Started studying Hindi on Ling: "Ling - Learn Hindi".
  • An elegant and perfectly legible Hindi script is used, though no explanation is given, so outside help is probably required, though the script is fairly straightforward and phonetic, and might be deduced.
  • Transliteration is on occasion a bit odd, though perfection is impossible. For example: “boy” एक लड़का, pronounced something like “ek larka”, is transliterated “ek ladka” – ie. the retroflex “r” (ड़) is given as a “d”.
  • A particular peeve of mine is the adding barbarous n’s to indicate nasal vowels. An egregious example is नहीं, मैं जर्मनी से हूँ| transliterated “nahin, main jarmanee se hoon” (No, I'm from Germany). The three dots indicate nasal vowels.
  • But you can understand what it’s on about – though this makes some of the exercises more difficult than they need be.
  • I’ve been using "Snell (Rupert) - Beginner's Hindi Script" to assist, which is also useful as a brief introduction to the language.
  • Ling has writing and speaking exercises, which I’ve not tried yet.
  • Hindi prides itself on the purity of its Sanskrit-inspired script, with no redundancy of consonants or vowels (contrast Armenian231 and Thai232). The Ling course doesn’t point out the different sets of consonants – especially aspirated and retroflex – which are clearly articulated in Hindi and are difficult for Europeans to pronounce.
  • There is no grammar given, which is awkward as Hindi inflected. I have a bunch of Teach Yourself books by Rupert Snell, including the one mentioned above.
↑↑↑226/10/2020Hindi: Borrowings
  • From Ling, I deduce that - like English - Hindi imports vocabulary – and entire phrases like “good morning” – from other languages, particularly English. I'd understood that it preferred to use Sanskrit for neologisms, but see that several imports are from English unchanged. The spelling appears in Devanagari script but the pronunciation is English – sort of cut-glass with a slight Indian accent. This explains why – when I was in Pune – the local HSBC employees would suddenly introduce English words when talking amongst themselves in what I took to be Hindi (though the local language is Marathi).
  • Anyway, today’s examples are “bread” and “soup” but also “kitab” (book, from Arabic233 “kitab(un)”).
  • I’d earlier noted that “soup” appears in Thai234. Hindi “bread” looks like it might be for European-style loaves rather than roti. However, in Urdu235 (according to Ling), "soup" is "soop" (سوپ) and "bread" is indeed "roti" (روٹی); book is "kitaab" (کتاب). I see from Wikipedia that “kitabu” is also the Swahili236 for book, and from Ling that “kitap” is the Turkish237 (and subsequently that "kitab" is Persian238 for book).
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Italian00Administration
  • Resources: Books; Papers; 50languages.com
  • Hours spent this academic year: 10.75
  • Date last Studied (Ling): 24-Jul-21
  • Date last Studied (Non-Ling): 23-Nov-20
  • References (7): French239, General240, (2241), (3242), (4243), Portuguese244, Spanish245
  • Hours by prior academic year: Total: 124.75. 2019: 0.5. 2017: 13.75. 2013: 14.75. 2011: 1.25. 2009: 49.5. 2008: 31.5. 2007: 13.5
  • Latest Ling Lesson Studied: 10.5
  • Links to Aeon Comparative Database:
    1. Vocabulary246
    2. Dialogues247
↑↑↑2223/11/2020Started studying Italian on Ling: "Ling - Learn Italian".
  • I thought I’d just check it out on Ling – useful for holidays, and Inspector Montalbano, but that’s about it.
  • Ling has speaking exercises, but I’m familiar enough with Italian not to need them, however useful they might be for sorting out my accent.
  • Sadly, there are no grammar sections during the lessons, or for review, on Ling. I have a number of introductory books on Italian, but all are based on immersion rather than formal grammar. I will probably use "Freeth (Mariolina) & Checketts (Giuliana) - Contatti 1: A First Course in Italian".
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Japanese00Administration
  • Resources: Books; Papers; 50languages.com
  • Hours spent this academic year: 73.25
  • Date last Studied (Ling): 22-Jul-21
  • Date last Studied (Non-Ling): 02-Aug-21
  • References (7): Armenian248, Chinese249, General250, (2251), (3252), Korean253, (2254)
  • Hours by prior academic year: Total: 66.25. 2019: 2. 2010: 3.75. 2009: 8.5. 2008: 27.25. 2007: 24.75
  • Latest Ling Lesson Studied: 6.5
  • Links to Aeon Comparative Database:
    1. Vocabulary255
    2. Dialogues256
↑↑↑509/10/2020Started studying Japanese on Ling: "Ling - Learn Japanese".
  • The Japanese script is given, and there are writing exercises – I’ve not looked at them beyond the first character, but they may just be Kana as the first character presented is the Hiragana for “a”.
  • Like for Chinese257 on Ling, the script is introduced far too quickly to be assimilated, especially in the dialogues. It is to be read from left to right, which is the opposite of the Japanese convention.
  • The transliteration is sensible, and is used for the exercises, so the script is not necessary for the course.
  • There are speaking exercises, which I’ve not tried. Japanese is not a tonal language, so presumably these exercises won’t be as difficult as those for Chinese258 are likely to be.
  • There are grammar sections – both in the individual units and for review.
  • I have a host of books on Japanese, but will probably just use "Lammers (W.P.) - Japanese the Manga Way: An Illustrated Guide to Grammar and Structure" as it’s more enjoyable than the others.
  • However, it would also be worth quickly reading through "Seward (Jack) - Easy Japanese: A Guide to Spoken and Written Japanese", to get an idea of how the language works, though …
  • It might also be worth getting a quick overview from Wikipedia: Japanese Grammar first.
↑↑↑2908/12/2020Ling’s use of Japanese script:-
  • I’m wondering whether it might be possible to use Ling to get some familiarity with the Japanese script.
  • Quite a lot of use is made of Kana (Hiragana). So, ‘you are a man’ (anata wa dansei da) appears as あなた は 男性 だ, where ‘anata’ (you) is あなた (three Kana syllables) and ‘da’ (are) is だ (also Kana), while the subject-particle ‘wa’ is also Kana, though for reasons I don’t yet understand, uses the Hiragana symbol for ‘ha’ (は). ‘Man’ (dansei) is Kanji (男性).
  • Over time, I suspect it’ll be fairly easy to become familiar with the oft-repeated words and particles, though writing them is another thing entirely.
  • It might be interesting to compare the Japanese Kanji with the Chinese259 pictograms for words of the same meaning. The numbers seem to be the same.
↑↑↑3505/01/2021Japanese Script
↑↑↑4204/02/2021Japanese: On European Orthography
↑↑↑4819/02/2021Japanese Hiragana
  • Not finding my existing resources any use in learning Hiragana, I looked around on-line, and found "ToFuGu - Learn Hiragana: The Ultimate Guide".
  • This has an excellent couple of Apps - one for learning and one for testing - that can be used when out walking the dog.
  • They use a visualisation technique that I'd always thought rather ludicrous, but which really works. I seem to have learnt Hiragana without too much difficulty, by taking it slowly - studying a bit every day; my records tell me it took 9.5 hours over 18 days, including Dakuten and Combination Hiragana.
  • I don't currently feel any mental stress as a result of using this technique. It'll be interesting to see whether the mental associations are retained over time. I imagine that ultimately the associations aren't required as you "just know" the characters. But if you don't use what you've learnt, no doubt it'll fade.
  • In accord with the course advice, I've made no attempt to learn to write the script as yet.
  • Now on to Katakana!
↑↑↑4908/03/2021Japanese Katakana
  • Started Katakana - using "ToFuGu - Learn Katakana: The Ultimate Guide".
  • I have now (4 days later) nearly finished after 3.5 hours effort walking the dog. I mostly paused other language-learning while I got this out of the way.
  • I'd expected this to get more difficult, the more items that have to be memorised, but actually foundt it easier. So far I've not found any conflict between Katakana and Hiragana.
  • We'll see when I start trying the tests for the combined Kana - all 214 of them.
  • Update: 21 March 2021. There was a slight stutter, but I did manage to get all but one of the items correct in the last test I took. So, effectively, they are learnt!
  • An issue is that the font used on Ling and that in printed books isn't the same, so distinguishing the sometimes very similar characters may be difficult in practise.
  • I now intend to go through "Lammers (W.P.) - Japanese the Manga Way: An Illustrated Guide to Grammar and Structure" which is now much more accessible now I've learnt Kana, and will provide the reading practice I need.
↑↑↑5405/06/2021Discovered – and started investigating – "WaniKani - Learn Japanese Kanji".
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Korean00Administration
  • Resources: Books; Papers; 50languages.com
  • Hours spent this academic year: 21
  • Date last Studied (Ling): 14-May-21
  • Date last Studied (Non-Ling): 15-May-21
  • References (1): General261
  • Latest Ling Lesson Studied: 5.5
  • Links to Aeon Comparative Database:
    1. Vocabulary262
    2. Dialogues263
↑↑↑3814/01/2021Started studying Korean on Ling: "Ling - Learn Korean".
  • A slightly vertically-squashed but perfectly legible Hangul script is used. Indeed, my main aim in adding Korean to my list is to learn the script, which - being alphabetic - should be fairly easy to learn, and easier than Thai264, which has a lot more letters.
  • This is all very new to me at the moment, so I can't really comment yet on the quality of the transliteration.
  • Ling has both writing and speaking exercises for Korean.
  • I've purchased "Go (Billy) - Korean Made Simple: A beginner's guide to learning the Korean language: 1" to provide assistance. This book insists you learn Hangul first, which is probably sensible as the sounds of the consonants appear to be intermediate between European norms, so assigning a Latin letter is misleading. The book implied that Korean has Chinese-influenced vocabulary, because the elite used to write in Chinese265 before the Hangul script was invented, and that its grammar is influenced by Japanese266. But "Wikipedia - Korean language" doesn't seem to support this, claiming the language to be an isolate falling into the "most difficult" category for Europeans to learn (along with Chinese267, Japanese268 and Arabic269). It says it's agglutinating (like Turkish270).
↑↑↑4511/02/2021Korean on Ling
  • Having got a bit further with Korean, I see that there are Grammar sections on Ling, which will be useful.
  • The transliteration on Ling is a little bit odd, but that's par for the course with Korean, where the consonants don't have an exact match with those in Indo-European languages. "Go (Billy) - Korean Made Simple: A beginner's guide to learning the Korean language: 1" stops using transliteration as soon as it can (which is too soon, in my view).
  • While the script isn't too difficult to understand, the language seems (even) more difficult than Japanese271, Chinese272 or Thai273, though it doesn't seem to be tonal.
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Persian00Administration
  • Resources: Books; Papers; 50languages.com
  • Hours spent this academic year: 11.75
  • Date last Studied (Ling): 03-Jun-21
  • Date last Studied (Non-Ling): 25-Jan-21
  • References (8): Arabic274, General275, Hindi276, Urdu277, (2278), (3279), (4280), (5281)
  • Hours by prior academic year: Total: 7.75. 2010: 1.75. 2009: 1.75. 2008: 4.25
  • Latest Ling Lesson Studied: 5.5
  • Links to Aeon Comparative Database:
    1. Vocabulary282
    2. Dialogues283
↑↑↑1304/11/2020Started studying Persian on Ling: "Ling - Learn Persian".
  • An elegant and perfectly legible Perso-Arabic script is used. I’ve not yet checked whether the script – with its minor variations from the Arabic284 – is the same as that used for Urdu285. As usual, there’s no explanation of the script.
  • The script isn’t pointed – in that it doesn’t show the three short vowels, which is a shame. It seems that these vowels are only used for beginners, so it would have been nice to have them in. However, I note that the Persian short vowels are a, e and o and that – where used – the signs are those used for the Arabic286 short vowels a, i and u. So, the pointing might be confusing if used!
  • Transliteration is probably a bit odd, as is probably bound to be the case as the Arabic287 script wasn’t really designed for an Indo-European language so won’t be phonetic.
  • Ling has no writing or speaking exercises for Persian.
  • There’s no grammar given or explained, and the only assistance I have is "Farzad (Narguess) - Complete Modern Persian", but this seems a useful volume and I have the CDs somewhere!
↑↑↑2729/11/2020Persian Script
  • I thought I'd double-check the differences between the Persian and Arabic288 scripts.
  • Basically, Persian adds letters for the consonants not found in Arabic289, modifying existing consonants. So, using triple-dots in the appropriate place in the nearest-sounding Arabic290 consonant for p (پ, using b, ب), s (ث, using t, ت), ch (as in 'cheese', چ, using j, ج) and zh (ژ, using z, ز). There's a double-line in 'k' to indicate 'g' (گ, based on ک). I'm not sure why an extra 's' is required, as Arabic291 already has two s's and a 'sh'.
  • For Urdu292, there are a further three letters which used to have four dots, but are now marked with a amall Arabic293 / Persian / Urdu294 palatal 't' (which looks like a small 'b' - ط). They are: t (ٹ, following t, ت), d (ڈ, following dal, د) and r (ڑ, following r, ر).
  • The above was fun to check out, but would have been simpler just reading: DiscoverDiscomfort.com: Farsi (Persian) vs Arabic — Similarities and Differences.
  • Wikipedia: Persian Alphabet is also useful.
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Portuguese00Administration
  • Resources: Books; Papers; 50languages.com
  • Hours spent this academic year: 11.25
  • Date last Studied (Ling): 30-Jul-21
  • Date last Studied (Non-Ling): 06-Jan-21
  • References (6): Armenian295, French296, General297, (2298), (3299), Spanish300
  • Hours by prior academic year: Total: 299. 2019: 0.25. 2013: 21.5. 2012: 12. 2011: 41.25. 2010: 153. 2009: 6.25. 2008: 4. 2007: 60.75
  • Latest Ling Lesson Studied: 10.5
  • Links to Aeon Comparative Database:
    1. Vocabulary301
    2. Dialogues302
↑↑↑2627/11/2020Started studying Portuguese on Ling: "Ling - Learn Portuguese".
  • I thought I’d just check it out on Ling. I’ve spent some time on Brazilian Portuguese, including private coaching for some years, as my son-in-law Leandro is from Brazil. Not that I can remember much now, so it’ll be good to have a refresher. Additionally, it’s interesting to compare with Spanish303 (and Italian304).
  • Ling provides European Portuguese only. The grammar and vocabulary differ only slightly between the two dialects, but the pronunciation is quite different. The pronunciation of final ‘s’ as ‘sh’ makes the language sound Eastern European. My tutor – herself from Brazil – said she’d once been sitting behind some Portuguese on the train for half an hour before realising they were chattering away in European Portuguese!
  • Ling has speaking exercises, but given the above caveat, it’ll be best to give them a miss.
  • Sadly, there are no grammar sections during the lessons, or for review, on Ling. I have lot of books on Portuguese. I will probably use "Whitlam (John) - Modern Brazilian Portuguese Grammar: A Practical Guide".
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Russian00Administration
  • Resources: Books; Papers; 50languages.com
  • Hours spent this academic year: 9
  • Date last Studied (Ling): 31-May-21
  • Date last Studied (Non-Ling): 26-Dec-20
  • References (2): General305, (2306)
  • Hours by prior academic year: Total: 10.5. 2009: 1.5. 2008: 9
  • Latest Ling Lesson Studied: 5.5
  • Links to Aeon Comparative Database:
    1. Vocabulary307
    2. Dialogues308
↑↑↑1709/11/2020Started studying Russian on Ling: "Ling - Learn Russian".
  • The Russian script is given, and there are writing tests – though the script isn’t complex enough for this to be worthwhile, especially with a fingernail on an iPhone. I’ve not checked whether these exercises are of printed or hand-written Russian – which differ somewhat.
  • The transliteration schema – which is needed for the exercises and progressing the course – are slightly idiosyncratic, in that the Russian “o” is transliterated as “a” when thus pronounced, while “ye” is always transliterated as “e” even when pronounced as “ye”.
  • There are speaking exercises which I’ve not tried yet.
  • There are no grammar sections, which is a shame for so highly inflected a language. I will use "West (Daphne) - Russian" for assistance.
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Spanish00Administration
  • Resources: Books; Papers; 50languages.com
  • Hours spent this academic year: 12.25
  • Date last Studied (Ling): 28-Jul-21
  • Date last Studied (Non-Ling): 27-Nov-20
  • References (8): French309, General310, (2311), (3312), (4313), (5314), Portuguese315, Swahili316
  • Hours by prior academic year: Total: 119.5. 2016: 2. 2015: 9. 2014: 24.75. 2013: 9.5. 2010: 16. 2009: 4.75. 2008: 9.25. 2007: 44.25
  • Latest Ling Lesson Studied: 10.5
  • Links to Aeon Comparative Database:
    1. Vocabulary317
    2. Dialogues318
↑↑↑2527/11/2020Started studying Spanish on Ling: "Ling - Learn Spanish".
  • I thought I’d just check it out on Ling – useful for holidays, but that’s about it, though it’s interesting to compare with Portuguese319 (and Italian320).
  • Ling has speaking exercises, but I’m familiar enough with Spanish not to need them, however useful they might be for sorting out my accent.
  • Sadly, there are no grammar sections during the lessons, or for review, on Ling. I have a number of introductory books on Spanish, but all are based on immersion rather than formal grammar. I will probably use "Gordon (Ronni L.) & Stillman (David M.) - The Ultimate Spanish Review and Practice".
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Swahili00Administration
  • Resources: Books; Papers
  • Hours spent this academic year: 16.25
  • Date last Studied (Ling): 01-Jun-21
  • Date last Studied (Non-Ling): 18-Apr-21
  • References (2): General321, Hindi322
  • Latest Ling Lesson Studied: 5.5
  • Links to Aeon Comparative Database:
    1. Vocabulary323
    2. Dialogues324
↑↑↑126/10/2020Started on Ling today: "Ling - Learn Swahili".
  • Printed off "Wikipedia - Swahili language" and "Wikipedia - Bantu languages" for a leisurely read.
  • Thankfully, no issues with the script as – though ‘originally’ written in the Arabic325 script (ie. when first written down) – it now uses the Latin alphabet.
  • Ling has – therefore – no writing exercises for Swahili, but also no grammar and no speaking exercises.
  • Thankfully, Swahili isn't a tonal language - unlike many other Bantu languages - so the lack of speaking exercises won't be too much of a deprivation.
  • The omission of grammar is more of a disappointment, because Swahili grammar is substantially different from the languages of Europe or Asia. I’ve purchased "Wood (Laurence) & Shadrack (Jaba Tumaini) - Learn Swahili Quickly and Easily: The theory made simple" to fill that gap, and it looks a really good read!
  • I’ve chosen Swahili as a “taster” of sub-Saharan African languages. From a quick check it’s only really the national language of Tanzania, but is widely spoken as a second or official language in much of Eastern-Central Africa.
↑↑↑1915/11/2020Palenquero
  • I found an interesting linguistic connection in an Aeon Video on Palenque326.
  • Palenque is a village in Columbia founded in the 16th century by escaped slaves - follow the link for more information - but in this context is interesting for the language, a creole called Palenquero (see Wikipedia: Palenquero), based on Spanish327 but with much vocabulary and a simplified grammar based on Kongo, a Bantu language like Swahili (see Wikipedia: Kongo language).
  • Following the links, it is interesting to see the similarities with Swahili.
  • See Wikipedia for the differences between Creoles (Wikipedia: Creole Language) and Pidgins (Wikipedia: Pidgin). Basically, the former are mergers of two or more "contact languages" with a worked out grammar, while the latter are more informal unions.
↑↑↑3613/01/2021Arabic328 influence on Swahili
  • I’ve previously noted that Swahili was originally written in the Arabic329 script. Today I came across evidence of Arabic330 influence on vocabulary. “Kitabu” for book had been previously noted from Wikipedia, but today turned up the Arabic331 influence on numbers.
  • Interestingly, the authors of "Wood (Laurence) & Shadrack (Jaba Tumaini) - Learn Swahili Quickly and Easily: The theory made simple" seem unaware of this influence, or they wouldn’t have remarked that “for some reason, four of the numbers from one to ten never change when applied to the things they are numbering”. Three of these numbers are Arabic332:-
    • Six: “Sita”
    • Seven: “Saba”
    • Nine: “Tisa”
  • The fourth (Ten: “Kumi”) isn’t Arabic333 (which is “Aashara”), but then the words for 20 to 90 are Arabic-based. Eg: 20: “Ishirini”; 30: “Thelathini”; etc. The suffix added to indicate the multiple of 10 is “ini” rather than “in”; so 60 is “Sitini”, rather than “Sitin”.
  • As for higher numbers, 100 (“Mia”) and 1,000 (“Elfu”) are also Arabic-derived.
  • 1,000,000 is “Milioni” which could be Arabic-derived (“Milyon”), though this is Latin (and is also Turkish334). I think the use of “Milyon” in Arabic335 is accounted for by modern generic European influence. It’s not modern Greek336 (which is “εκατομμύριο”: ie. 100 x 10,000), so won’t be Byzantine Greek337 either, and it seems that Latin is “decies centena milia” (ie. 10 x 100 x 1,000).
  • No number above 9 is inflected in Swahili, by the look of things.
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Swedish00Administration
↑↑↑2425/11/2020Started studying Swedish on Ling: "Ling - Learn Swedish".
  • I’ve no good reason for studying Swedish – like Danish344 – other than that it’s the language of a number of Scandi-noir series on TV, and it’d be nice to get an overview of how the language works, though I can’t see myself skipping the sub-titles any time soon. It’ll be interesting to see the similarities with German345 and Danish346.
  • Swedish – of course – uses a slightly augmented Latin script, though the pronunciation is not quite what one might expect, though better than Danish347. As usual, Ling provides no explanation, but I dare say it’s easy enough to pick up the rules.
  • Ling has speaking tests, but I’ve not thought of availing myself of them.
  • There are no grammar sections for Swedish on Ling, so I’ll need to rely on the rather antiquated "McClean (R.J.) - Swedish: A Grammar of the Modern Language" for enlightenment.
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Thai00Administration
  • Resources: Books; Papers; 50languages.com
  • Hours spent this academic year: 12
  • Date last Studied (Ling): 08-Jun-21
  • Date last Studied (Non-Ling): 19-May-21
  • References (8): Armenian348, General349, (2350), (3351), Hindi352, (2353), Korean354, (2355)
  • Hours by prior academic year: Total: 165.75. 2019: 105.25. 2018: 3.75. 2017: 28.5. 2016: 7.25. 2015: 19.75. 2014: 1.25
  • Latest Ling Lesson Studied: 24.1
  • Links to Aeon Comparative Database:
    1. Vocabulary356
    2. Dialogues357
↑↑↑714/04/2020Started studying Thai on Ling: "Ling - Learn Thai".
  • An elegant and perfectly legible Thai script is used. There’s no explanation of the script, which must all be rather mysterious to those who can’t already read it given the complexity of the vowels.
  • The transliteration was fine, but unfortunately disappeared never to be seen again after the ten Introductory lessons had been completed – even when reviewing these very lessons. This meant you really did need to learn the rather complex script, and caused difficulties in the rain when it's difficult to read the script. Thankfully - some time in March 2021 probably - a button appeared to allow you to toggle transliteration on and off. This makes reviewing much easier while out walking, though I accept the need to fully internalise the script.
  • There are “speaking tests”, but I didn’t get on with these. Thai is a tonal language, and the transliteration did – I think – indicate the tones, which would have been fine if you understood the meaning of the marks, but now the transliteration has disappeared, the point is moot. Thai script only indicates the tones if they differ from what would be normal using the tone rules, which depend on the consonant class as well as much else. So, I was never sure whether I was marked down because of the tones, or some other incompetence. In any case, I’ve never been able to hear the tones in Thai as clearly as in Mandarin Chinese358.
  • There are Grammar sections in each lesson and in the Reviews, which is very helpful, though Thai grammar is very simple in comparison with that of most non-oriental languages.
  • I have a number of books and articles on Thai, but the most useful is probably "Becker (Benjawan Poomsan) - Thai for Beginners".
↑↑↑3024/12/2020Thai: Stalled progress
  • I got about half-way through the Thai course on Ling before I unleashed the floodgates and started using Ling to study a host of other languages.
  • As is obvious, the more languages are studied simultaneously, the less time is available for each: indeed, there's likely to be a gap of a month or so between sessions of attending to any particular language.
  • This can be a minor advantage in that when subsequently reviewing a lesson after a month - though maybe not for much longer - the material has had some time to assimilate in the background, without being completely forgotten, but is not so fresh as to make review boring and repetative.
  • An issue is - for me - with languages like Thai, where there's been a significant gap between initial learning and follow-up. I'd felt that I'd pushed on too far too fast and now need to review the 100 units I'd got through. But that'll take a long time. I don't have an answer. At the moment I've just started back at the beginning.
↑↑↑3124/12/2020Thai: Tones
  • On Ling, the Thai grammar sections do include transliteration, so I see that the tones are marked therein (as well as in the Thai script).
  • An example is a footnote: "In casual speech, chăn is pronounced ชั้น (chán), kăo is pronounced เค้า (káo)". 'Chan' is the feminine (or neutral) form of 'I'; 'Kao' means 'he'. Goodness knows what this advice means to the casual user of Ling, as neither the Thai script, nor the tone-transliteration has been explained. What it actually means is that a high tone, rather than a risting tone is used in casual speech.
  • As in Mandarin Chinese359, there are four tones in Thai, in addition to the neutral tone.
  • Starting with Mandarin Chinese360 (see, for instance, MIT: Mandarin Chinese Tones), the tones are - in the traditional order:-
    1. High tone: a bar over the Pinyin letter.
    2. Rising tone: an accute accent ...
    3. Falling then rising: a slightly rounded 'v' ...
    4. Falling: a grave accent ...
  • In Mandarin Chinese361 Pinyin, the tone marks are quite descriptive. However, in Thai, the tones are described differently, and variants of the Pinyin tone marks are used:-
    1. High tone: an accute accent over the letter.
    2. Falling: a circumflex ...
    3. Rising tone: a slightly rounded 'v' ...
    4. Low: a grave accent
  • As I've suggested earlier, I don't fully understand the Thai tones, in that I can't hear them in speech, but I think the diacritics in the transliteration are a bit more of a guide than the names of the tones suggest (at least going by Wikipedia: Thai Tones). So:-
    1. High tone: Does rise, so an accute accent is descriptive
    2. Falling: Rises before falling, so a circumflex is appropriate
    3. Rising tone: falls before rising, so a slightly rounded 'v' (as for the Mandarin Chinese362 3rd tone) is appropriate
    4. Low: Falls first, so a grave accent suits
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Turkish00Administration
  • Resources: Books; Papers; 50languages.com
  • Hours spent this academic year: 8.5
  • Date last Studied (Ling): 15-Jun-21
  • Date last Studied (Non-Ling): 11-May-21
  • References (7): Arabic363, Armenian364, Dutch365, General366, Hindi367, Korean368, Swahili369
  • Hours by prior academic year: Total: 42.75. 2019: 7.25. 2017: 1. 2016: 0.5. 2013: 0.25. 2012: 1.25. 2011: 1.25. 2010: 5.25. 2009: 3.25. 2008: 15.5. 2007: 7.25
  • Latest Ling Lesson Studied: 6.5
  • Links to Aeon Comparative Database:
    1. Vocabulary370
    2. Dialogues371
↑↑↑1022/08/2020Started studying Turkish on Ling: "Ling - Learn Turkish".
  • Thankfully, modern Turkish uses a slightly modified Latin alphabet, so no transliteration or writing practice is required. The additional letter / modifications are not explained, but their sounds will become apparent from the App’s pronunciation.
  • There are speaking exercises, but I’ve not tried them yet.
  • There’s no grammar, which is disappointing as Turkish grammar – with agglutination and vowel harmony – is somewhat different from that of European languages. I intend to use "Celen-Pollard (Asuman) & Pollard (David) - Turkish (Teach Yourself Complete Courses)".
    
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion
Urdu00Administration
↑↑↑1404/11/2020Started studying Urdu on Ling: "Ling - Learn Urdu".
  • An elegant and perfectly legible Perso-Arabic script is used. I’ve not yet checked whether the script – with its minor variations from the Arabic381 – is the same as that used for Persian382. As usual, there’s no explanation of the script.
  • There’s no pointing to show the short vowels. My Grammar suggests that the standard Arabic383 pointing is used, with the standard Arabic384 sounds (a, i, u), in contrast to the Persian385.
  • Transliteration is a bit odd, and inconsistent with that for Hindi386, but – at least sometimes – the “barbarous n’s” to indicate nasal vowels are actually in the script. Anyway, you can usually understand what it’s on about – though this makes some of the exercises more difficult than they need be.
  • Ling has writing exercises, which I’ve not tried yet, but – rather oddly – no speaking exercises.
  • There’s no grammar, and the only assistance I have is "Platts (John T.) - A Grammar of the Hindustani or Urdu Language", which is over 100 years old!
↑↑↑1608/11/2020Urdu versus Hindi387
  • From the first Urdu unit on Ling, it’s interesting to see the differences – and similarities – between Urdu and Hindi388 that I was expecting, fleshed out in a bit of detail.
  • Urdu has “perfect” borrowings from English, as does Hindi389. It has horribly mangled borrowings from Arabic390, though it’s possible that these are via Persian391 which may have mangled them less.
  • There are also – presumably – borrowings from Persian392 that are not dependent on Arabic393. A case in point is “mard” – meaning “man”. In Persian394 it is also “mard”, which is unrelated to Arabic395 (“rajul”) but is the same as Armenian396 (“mard” or “tghamard”, “tgha” being the Armenian397 for “boy”), which might be directly dependent on Persian398, or descent from a common Indo-European ancestor. Hindi399 is “purush”.
  • I got slightly confused by the use of “ek” – as in “ek mard”. It’s the numeral “one”, presumably used as the indefinite article by Ling. It’s also “ek” in Hindi400; but “yek” in Persian401.
  • All this will become clearer as I get further with this trio of languages.
↑↑↑2830/11/2020Urdu Script
  • Following on from Persian402, I thought I'd double-check the differences between the Urdu and Perso-Arabic scripts.
  • Basically, Urdu follows Persian403 by adding letters for consonants not found in Arabic404, modifying existing consonants. As with Persian405, it uses triple-dots in the appropriate place in the nearest-sounding Arabic406 consonant for p (پ, using b, ب), s (ث, using t, ت), ch (as in 'cheese', چ, using j, ج) and zh (ژ, using z, ز). There's a double-line in 'k' to indicate 'g' (گ, based on ک).
  • Urdu has to accommodate the aspirated and retroflex consonants found in Hindi407. Aspiration is accommodated by using digraphs with an 'h' (eg. بھ for 'bh'), so the extra consonants are retroflex. These were indicated by four dots in the appropriate place, ٿ ڐ ڙ, but "Platts (John T.) - A Grammar of the Hindustani or Urdu Language" suggests that the 'four dot' approach is replaced by another sign (like a small 'b': really a Arabic408 / Persian409 / Urdu palatal 't' - ط) in books printed in India. This is confirmed by Wikipedia: Urdu Alphabet. They are: t (ٹ, following t, ت), d (ڈ, following dal, د) and r (ڑ, following r, ر). I've seen the 'ط' orthography on Ling for 'larka' / 'larki' (لڑکی / لڑکا, boy / girl).
  • I've been confused by the orthography of an initial 'h' in Urdu ('Gol he', ہـ), as in tiny fonts it looks like an initial Arabic410 'b', ب.
  • UrduPoint: Dictionary looks useful.
↑↑↑3403/01/2021Urdu Script
↑↑↑4304/02/2021Urdu: Orthography of "kh" sounds
  • In Hindi415, to watch a movie is "film dekhna" (फिल्म देखना) while in Urdu it is the same, but is written فلم دیکھنا. Here the Hindi416 "kh" ख appears in "Ling Urdu" as two letters (kaf followed by he). I think this may be an attempt to add a "do cashmi he" to indicate aspiration, but this can't be done in the font Ling uses.
  • The same is true for "food" ("khana") - खाना versus کھانا. Also "to learn" (seekhna) - सीखना versus سيکھنا.
  • But some words in Urdu use the Arabic417 "kh" - so, خریدنا (kharidna, to buy). In this case the Hindi418 is the same word, but written ख़रीदना. That is, the ख़ is dotted, indicating that the word has been imported from Arabic419. So, it's a slightly different sound, a gutteral "k" rather than a very breathy "k", though usually the two sounds are pronounced the same in both Hindi420 and Urdu (and often the Hindi421 dot is ignored in print).
  • Sometimes, where this letter appears in Urdu, Hindi422 uses a different word altogether, preferring to avoid Arabic423 influence where possible.
↑↑↑4413/02/2021Urdu: Hot
  • I was struck by the thought that "garam" (گرم, hot, as in , گرم کافی, "hot coffee") sounds like "warm", which (in diverse spellings) means "hot" in a number of Indo-European languages.
  • In Hindi424 "hot" is "garm" (गर्म ), in Danish425 it is "Varm" and in Swedish426 it is "Varmt". In German427, "warm" means "warm", and in Dutch428 it means warm, or hot!
  • Indeed, Wiktionary - گرم confirms this, saying that it derives from the Persian429 گرم‎ (garm), though Ling has ghahvehye dâgh (قهوهٔ داغ) for "hot coffee".
LanguageIDDate RaisedAnimadversion



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